Feast Day: February 17
Born/Died: Thirteenth Century
These seven saints all came from among the richest families in Florence, Italy. Each had a great love for Mary, the Mother of God. They were active members of a confraternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary popularly known as the 'Laudesi' or Praisers.
The eldest was Buonfiglio Monaldo, who became their leader. The others were Alexis Falconieri, Benedict dell' Antella, Bartholomew Amidei, Ricovero Uguccione, Gerardino Sostegni, and John Buonagiunta. Their spiritual director was St. James of Poggibonsi, who was chaplain of the Laudesi, a man of great holiness and spiritual insight.
On the feast of the Assumption, while the seven men were deep in prayer, the Blessed Mother appeared to them. She inspired them to leave the world and to live alone with God.
After many years of living as hermits, they went to their bishop. They asked him for a rule of life to follow. The bishop encouraged them to pray and to ask for guidance from Mary.
Mary appeared to the men carrying a black habit. At her side was an angel bearing a scroll with the words "Servants of Mary" written on it. In this vision, the Blessed Mother said that she had chosen them to be her servants. She asked them to wear a black habit and to follow the Rule of St. Augustine.
These wonderful men helped each other love and serve God better. Six of them were ordained priests. The seventh founder, Alexis, remained a wonderful religious until death. In his humility, he chose not to be ordained to the priesthood.
Many young men came to join these holy founders. They were known as Servants of Mary or Servites.
These men have left us a remarkable example of fraternal charity and solidarity. How can I help cultivate unity and charity in my family, in my work place, or in the community that I live in?
He was cruelly tortured in Rome, for eighteen days, by a governor of that city, who became angry by his preaching of the Gospel. His legs were broken and he was then stoned to death.
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